flowing motion

Posts Tagged ‘reflected best self

Gratitude or selfishness?

When I first encountered the idea of a gratitude diary, I was discountenanced by feeling grateful for things like . . .  well, my coffee.  I suspected greed, not gratitude.

Once I started using a diary, then I realised that I was often thankful for the meals I had had that day.  I am grateful for a homemade soup, for example. but am I grateful just because I could have been out all day and been subjected to junk food?  Partly.  Yet  when I feel grateful for soup, I never simultaneously think of the disgusting fare served up as food up-and-down the arterial transport spokes.  I am think of much I appreciate a well made home made soup.  I experience pleasure not gluttony.

In short, I experience me.

This still seems selfish, doesn’t it?  But it is my job to see me.  It is my job to appreciate who I am.

The funny thing is that we cannot see who we are, or appreciate who we, are except in the eyes of the world.  It is when I reach out to some thing I value and treasure, when I recognize what is good in the world, that I recognize the good in me.

Khalil Gibran talks of adventuring a path and meeting the soul.  Not a soul.  The soul.

David Whyte talks of the universe taking its ball home too, when we get up and take our ball home. He points out that universe is not punishing us.  It is just that without “the faculties of attention, there is nothing to be found.”

We are what we are grateful for

We are what we are grateful for.  It’s a simple as that.  When we remind ourselves of what we truly appreciate, we remind ourselves of ourselves.  We are validated.  We belong.

But because we are simple folk and all these word feel like mental contortions, we can listen rather to the words of Mr Chips’ fellow teacher.

“I found that when I stopped judging myself harshly, the world became kinder to me. Remember I told you once, go out, and look around the world. Do that now. Only this time, let the world look at you. And the difference, I assure you, the world will like what it sees.”

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Your life mission in 30 seconds

A colleague of mine at the University of Canterbury would challenge first year students: “Can you stand up and tell the class (of 400 with intranet camera’s rolling) your life mission in 30 seconds?”

No. Of course, they can’t.  None of us can.  Even if we know our life mission, unless we are running as President of the US, we aren’t likely to lay it out for inspection.

It might even be bizarre to lay out our mission for inspection because it is built as we go in negotiation with people around us.

Your current priorities in 30 seconds

What we are able to do is tell you why what we are doing now is important to us.

Let’s imagine that.

  • A student, probably wearing a baseball cap backwards, stands up and says that he is doing a commerce degree because he should have a business degree but he really likes drinking and racing cars.  That’s OK with me.   It’s trifle ordinary but there is nothing wrong with being a regular bloke.  As we take the fellow (and his mates) through various exercises, he will find that he is extraverted, quite likely a Belbin team-player, with high affiliation needs and low achievement needs.  His career will pivot around his power needs (they might be high or low) and his propensity for action (is he a doer or a people person).  Really this is no problem at all.  He is heading towards a marketing-type career.  Acknowledging his life pattern gets him there faster with less angst.  Let him enjoy himself while he has the time and freedom.
  • A young women who stands up shyly and says she is doing a commerce degree because she thinks she can.  Indeed, introverted, with higher achievement orientation than her male colleague, and probably more concientious.  Her career will pivot around her ability to do accounting and finance and her willingness to take up leadership challenges to extend her emotional intelligence.  Funny how need for power comes up so often in commerce.
  • A professor who teaches because he wants to make sense of it all.  Quite high power and achievement needs.  Probably cerebral roles.

Permission to be ourselves

The mission is so obvious to anyone listening, yet not clear to the speaker.  When our mission is reflected back to, when the world says, “It’s OK”, then we relax too, and get on with what we need to get on with.

An ode to our life mission

So knowing that we can follow a plan without really knowing what the plan is, I’ll point you to a fantastic poem by Josephine Johnson that is circulating in poetry week.

Just remember when you read this poem “your barn” is “your unspoken barn”.  Don’t try to make an architectural plan of your barn (unless your are an architect or barn-builder).    Just admire the barn that emerges out of your life work.

Just say in 30 seconds why your current priorities are important to you.  The great and good around you do understand.  Don’t worry about defining you 30 second talk of next year.  It will be time enough then to set your priorities in the time and place that you live.

PS My colleague knew he was setting an impossible target.  But he also knew that students worry that they haven’t got their life mission nailed down.  By putting the goal on the table, he met them on the ground of their own concerns.   Then he led them towards that more nebulous place where we confidently build “our barn”, reassured by the feedback of respected others, and taking the time to stand back from time-to-time to look and say “what is this barn that I am building“?

A handheld digital camera.Image via Wikipedia

Which would you recognize more quickly?  A candid photograph of yourself, or, a photo airbrushed in your favor?

It seems we recognize “better” images of ourselves more quickly.

I don’t find it terribly surprising that we prefer prettier pictures of ourselves.  What seems to be significant is that we recognize ourselves a split second sooner when we are looking good!

  • I wonder if this holds when we are depressed?
  • And does it hold for verbal descriptions – do we recognize a positive account of our contribution more quickly than a realistic account?

I am fumbling here, but I suspect this may be very significant for managing social media campaigns?

Thoughts?

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